Some armed men, suspected to be members of the Boko Haram yesterday attacked a police station and a branch of BankPHB Plc in Kankara local government area of Katsina State, killing six policement and two civilians.
An eyewitness informed LEADERSHIP that the Boko Haram members first attacked a police station before proceeding to the bank. He added that the group detonated some explosives which damaged both the building of the police station and the bank.
According to the eyewitness, three of the policemen including a DPO were killed at the police station while the remaining three were killed at the bank. They allegedly carted away millions of naira.
Two bank officials were said to have been killed accidentally, just as the perpetrators were said to have distributed some of the money they looted from the bank to people.
They reportedly fled the scene of the incident in two vehicles.
A resident of the area, Ibrahim Sulaiman, also told our correspondent that the sect members used one of the vehicles of the bank customers to escape from the scene, adding that the members later abandoned the vehicle near Yankumaki town.
Ibrahim further stated that policemen diverted traffic from the area after the incident, saying that police officers were now at the two places and dispersed onlookers from converging on the police station and the bank.
But the police denied the claim that the attack was perpetrated by Boko Haram.
In a telephone interview with LEADERSHIP, the force PRO, Olushola Amore, a deputy commissioner of police, said the signals the force received from Katsina showed that it was purely a robbery incident.
He said: “The signals we received showed that the attacks were carried out by armed robbers and not by Boko Haram members. The robbers attacked the police station, which was very near to the bank, in order to have free access to the bank.
“The robbers also carted away undisclosed sum of money. To the best of my knowledge, the attack was not from Boko Haram but from armed robbers.
“We are also not aware of the claim that some of the money looted from the bank were being shared to the people by the perpetrators of the attack.”
The Boko Haram sect yesterday issued a fresh threat of attack in some northern states with Kaduna, Plateau, Taraba and Benue marked as prime targets.
A statement from the website of the group said the terrorists were now ready for the Nigerian state after the training of their commandos in Somalia. In an e-mail sent to media houses by Yusuf Mohammed from the website www.yusufislamicbrothers.blogspot.com, the sect stated that the alert was to warn civilians to avoid public places especially military formations.
“This alert is meant to notify civilians to avoid military formations, especially the police. We are stepping up our attacks in the coming weeks in all northern states. The failed assassination attempt on the IG of police will not deter us as we are going to attack the entire northern parts of the country, including Abuja.
“Avoid crowded places and gatherings. We are ready for the Nigerian state, after the training of our commandos in Somalia. Northern states such as Plateau, Kaduna, Taraba, Benue should watch out for us especially Kaduna State.”
The group said that what the country lawmakers were taking as allowances was unacceptable. “We wish to warn the RMAFC chairman, Mr. Elias Mbam, of his plan to increase the salaries and allowances of Nigeria’s thieving legislators.
“We have been monitoring his statements over the past days and it seems he is bent on his devilish agenda, when millions of Nigerians wallow in abject poverty and deprivation and state governments cannot even pay the N18, 000 minimum salaries.
"We would be forced to place a fatwa on the chairman of RMAFC, Elias Mbam, the commission responsible for setting allowances and salaries for public servants, if he does not review downwards the salaries and allowances of these thieving lawmakers with immediate effect,” the email added.
The sect also alleged that the pay of 469 federal lawmakers gulped N339bn in four years while the actual salary (on pay slip) was only N18.245bn. The group argued that at N45m per senator per quarter (N720m in 4 years), N42m per house member per quarter (N672m in 4 years), it takes N4, 881,394,960 to maintain 109 senators while N13, 364,450,550 is needed to maintain 360 house members.
“This is so because the rest of what is normally marked as jumbo pay will surface really in form of quarterly allowances the two chambers approved for themselves and called running cost quarterly allowances.
“The breakdown is: N42 million for every member of the (lower) house, amounting to N168 million per annum, or N672 million in four years. Similarly, the very ‘distinguished senator’ will go home with N720 million in four years (N45m per quarter, or N180m per annum). What will reflect on the pay slips of the lawmakers would be the statutory salary, which will come to a meagre N18.245 billion for the two chambers in four years. Of these statutory figures, N4, 881,394,960 will be spent on the 109 senators while the remaining N13, 364,450,550 will be spent to maintain the 360 members of the House of Representatives,” the group stated.
In a bid to meet the challenges of the militant Islamic sect, Boko Haram, the inspector-general of police (IGP), Hafiz Ringim, has summoned commissioners of police in the 36 states of the federation and FCT, even as he has placed all the commands on 24-hour alert.
Responding to the recent threat by the sect, the deputy force public relations officer, Mr. Yemi Ajayi, a chief superintendent of police (CSP), urged Nigerians to remain calm as the threat was the handiwork of persons bent on causing panic in the country.
He explained that the IGP would be giving further directive to the commissioners of police and other senior police officers, pointing out that intelligence monitoring was on the highest alert.
Ajayi appealed to members of the public to report suspicious movements and persons to the nearest police division as the perpetrators of crime live among the people.
The police spokesperson asked Nigerians to be security conscious at all times, adding that the force was on top of the situation.
He, however, would not confirm if arrests had been made in connection with Thursday bombing of the Force Headquarters by suspected members of the Boko Haram sect.
Meanwhile, the National Assembly, in particular the Senate, has come under fire over their prolonged absence while the country is literarily under siege.
Some lawmakers are already complaining that the seeming coordinated silence of the upper chamber to current vexing issues of national importance, like the slow pace of the new government as a result of non-constitution of the federal cabinet, and the raging bombing of individuals and public institutions by the terrorist oorganisation Boko Haram, portrays the Senate as insensitive.
The Senate which closed down for a three-week recess immediately after its inauguration on June 6 will resume on Tuesday, June 28.
However, some lawmakers echoed yesterday that they had expected the Senate to cut short its recess to return and handle pressing state matter, like the confirmation of ministerial list which, LEADERSHIP exclusively reported last week, had been sent to the upper chamber by President Goodluck Jonathan.
“I had expected the Senate to reconvene for an emergency session in the light of the latest development. It is even most unfortunate that the Senate failed to issue a coordinated response to the bombing of the Police Headquarters in Abuja, except the condemnation of the act by the Senate president.
Meanwhile, security has been beefed up in the National Assembly. Visitors now have a herculean task gaining access into the complex, with staff and journalists being subjected to excruciating security checks before they are allowed to enter the premises. Aside the search, the car park has been moved out from the public arcade and is now located behind the new buildings housing the lawmakers of both chambers.